It’s too late to avoid a 21st century that is completely transformed by the forces of climate change, but we have to do everything possible to make the future cooler, safer, and healthier.David Wallace-Wells
Earth Day 2019 seems like an appropriate day to remind ourselves of the realities of climate change, and that there is no Planet B.
This blog started in April 2010 (goodness, has it been that long!) with a focus on green building in Miami. And it is still that. But much like I imagine journalist David Wallace-Wells felt collecting disparate articles with one terrifying, unifying thread – I’ve realized that if we, as a nation and as a planet, do not address climate change now, it won’t matter how great the sustainable buildings are in Miami. They will be underwater.
I’ve also realized that the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) is the best, quickest way for the United States to begin addressing our country’s carbon emissions.
What is the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act
According to energyinnovationact.org, there are two primary features – a “carbon fee” and a “carbon dividend” – and two protections for businesses.
This policy puts a fee on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. It starts low, and grows over time. This will drive down carbon pollution because energy companies, leading industries, and American consumers will move toward cleaner, cheaper options.
The money collected from the carbon fee is allocated in equal shares every month to the American people to spend as they see fit. Program administrative costs are paid from the fees collected. The government does not keep any of the money from the carbon fee.
Border Carbon Adjustment
To protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs, imported goods will pay a border carbon adjustment, and goods exported from the United States will receive a refund under this policy.
This policy preserves effective current regulations, like auto mileage standards, but pauses the EPA authority to regulate the CO2 and equivalent emissions covered by the fee, for the first 10 years after the policy is enacted. If emission targets are not being met after 10 years, Congress gives clear direction to the EPA to regulate those emissions to meet those targets. The pause does not impact EPA regulations related to water quality, air quality, health or other issues. This policy’s price on pollution will lower carbon emissions far more than existing and pending EPA regulations.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day 2019 than to voice my support for H.R. 763 – The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act. How about you?
What can reduce carbon emissions, create 2 million new U.S. jobs, and pay a dividend to every American household? The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was initially introduce to Congress in November 2018, and re-introduced in January of this year.
What is the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act?
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act – H.R. 763 – creates “a fee on carbon-emitting fuels, like coal, oil or gas, assessed at the mine, the well, or the port of entry.” This is NOT a tax. All fees collected will be deposited into a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund, with 100% of the net revenues paid as dividends to every U.S. household. Under this plan, fees and dividends will start small, with fees in the first year “at $15 per metric ton of CO2-equivalent GHG emissions, and rises steadily at $10 per ton each year” with dividends expected to be around $500 per person.
The idea of U.S. citizens receiving an annual dividend from the oil & gas industry is not new. And the nearly 40-year history of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend supports the contention that HR 763 will also stimulate local economies.
History of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act
On November 27, 2018, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act became the first bipartisan carbon tax bill to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. When it was introduced in the Senate three weeks later, it became the first bipartisan carbon tax bill to be active in both houses of the U.S. Congress. With a new Congress just sworn in, it was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on January 24, as H.R. 763.Joseph Robertson – Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition
In the House, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), and co-sponsored by:
- Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL-19)
- Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-27)
- Rep. Ana Eshoo (D-CA-18)
- Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52)
- Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL-13)
- Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL-3)
In the past two weeks, four more Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors: Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20), Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), Henry Johnson (D-GA-4), and Dean Phillips (D-MN-3).
It’s time to spread the word. Let’s put a #priceonpollution and support H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
As in fossil-fuels, not dinosaur bones. Sweden is already ahead of other nations in reducing fossil-fuel use by producing energy from their waste – so much so that they have to import garbage from the UK, Norway, Denmark and other neighboring countries. But Sweden wants to go even further by becoming entirely fossil-free by 2030, and they believe they can do it while continuing to grow their economy.
As part of this plan, Sweden has just launched their “Fossil-free Sweden” initiative to showcase programs created by Swedish companies and municipalities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to challenge the international community to do the same. They plan to bring many of these ideas to the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris beginning November 30.
Decoupling and the COP21
According to a Swedish government press-release:
One of the major questions being discussed at the upcoming COP21, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, is whether it is possible for nations to grow their economies whilst at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions, known as “decoupling”. Kristina Persson, Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Co-operation, also known as Sweden’s “Minister for the Future”, believes decoupling is not only possible, but a must for all countries to achieve.
The concept of “decoupling” has been around for years, and Sweden has the data to show it can work. Clearly one of the major benefits of reducing fossil-fuel use is the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1990 Sweden has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 22% while their GPD grew by 58% in the same time period.
Kristina Persson on Sea-Level Rise
This is a topic Miamians know (or should know) a little bit about. Kristina Persson, Sweden’s Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Co-operation, talks about sea-level rise as a crucial reason for decoupling our global economies from fossil-fuels.
According to research, we will reach a temperature increase of plus 3 degree during this century. And that is, of course, very dangerous. Many cities are situated closed to the ocean and they will be flooded, so you will get an increase of migration. People will not be able to support themselves, grow the food they need, and the economy will be hurt very badly. So we need to do much more than we are doing presently.
The recent Global Status Report from REN21 was encouraging on this point:
The report says clean energy’s remarkable growth has helped the world achieve a sustainable development milestone in growing the economy and energy use without a parallel rise in CO2 emissions. In finding that the world’s annual 1.5 per cent increase in energy consumption in recent years and three per cent GDP growth last year resulted in CO2 emissions unchanged from 2013 levels at 32.3 billion metric tons, the GSR echoes similar claims made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) earlier this week… REN21 says the possible decoupling of economic growth and emissions is largely due to China’s increased use of renewable resources and the wealthy OECD nations adopting more sustainable energy sources.
In the meantime, Sweden’s commitment to be fossil-free by 2030 is actually just stepping stones to the overarching goal of “a society with no net GHG emissions by the year 2050.” For a fascinating and detailed look at what Sweden is doing to couple their economy to the environment instead of to fossil-fuel, be sure to visit their website at Sweden.se.